Southwestward The Great American Space

A journey through a wide and spellbinding land, and a look at the civilization along its edges.

The synthetic colors of the motel in Albuquerque, all orange, purple, and blatant red, shouting the triumph of American civilization over the surrounding harshness, quickly fade from mind as we head out for Santa Fe. The great desert is upon us, like nothing you have seen elsewhere, something “other,” the floor of the world from the first day of creation. Only an occasional crag sprouting from the cracked surface distracts you from the overpowering emptiness as the perfect highway snakes its way on and on this early in the morning.Read more »

“I’ll Call This Land Virginia”

A pictorial history of the state from discovery to the Revolution


Oscar De Mejo, like an artist of the Renaissance, creates series of paintings on historical themes. For the Bicentennial he painted a sequence on the Revolution. In 1985 he was commissioned bv John W. Kluse. founder of Metromedia and a resident of Albemarle County, to paint this series on Virginia to celebrate Mrs. Kluge’s naturalization.Read more »

The Greatest Moments In A Girl’s Life

A postcard version of six tender and crucial rites of passage by the artist Harrison Fisher

This series of six postcards, titled “The Greatest Moments in a Girl’s Life,” was painted by Harrison Fisher around 1911. From about 1905 until his death in 1934, Fisher was by far the most popular illustrator of pretty women, the successor to Charles Dana Gibson. Like Norman Rockwell, Howard Chandler Christie, J. C. Leyendecker, and other illustrators of the period, Fisher’s work was found primarily in magazines; he drew most of the covers for Cosmopolitan, for example, from 1912 until his death.Read more »

A Sargent Portrait

It took half a century for his critics to see his subjects as clearly as he did; but today he stands as America’s preeminent portraitist

John Singer Sargent, in common with Holbein and Van Dyck, was an international painter of portraits who did his major work in England. It was in his studio in London’s Tite Street, during the 1880s and 1890s and in this century up to 1907, when he abandoned what he derisively called “paughtraits,” that he re-created on canvas the world of the AngloAmerican upper classes. His success was as great as that of his two predecessors, but his posthumous reputation has had a bumpier time. Read more »

The Impeccable Gardener

Beatrix Farrand’s exactingly beautiful designs changed the American landscape

When Beatrix Farrand arrived to work on a garden, clients knew they were in the presence of someone extraordinary. Friends called her Queen Elizabeth, and she sat regally swathed in lap robes, dressed primly in English tweeds, as her chauffeur guided the Fierce-Arrow touring car up the drive. In the twenties and thirties a garden by Farrand was believed to open social doors for its owner, and the people who hired her—people with such names as J. P. Morgan, Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Mr. Edward Whitney, Mrs.Read more »

Perfectly Simple

William Auerbach-Levy’s genius as a caricaturist lay in what he chose to leave out.

Great portraits are frequently caricatures. Think of van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Egon Schiele, Picasso, Max Beckmann, or Alice Neel. On the other hand, caricature is not portraiture. Well, not often. One exception, in my opinion, is William Auerbach-Levy. Unlike other caricaturists, he did not exaggerate facial features for comic or scurrilous effect. He used distortion to capture the persona in the same subtle way a good portrait painter does.Read more »

What Winslow Homer Did On His Vacation

On sojourns away from the studio where he labored in oils, Homer took along his watercolors and produced his freshest and most expressive work


Winslow Homer had been earning his living as an artist for nearly twenty years before he turned his hand to watercolors: like most of his contemporaries, he considered oil paintings worthier of serious attention. But beginning in 1873, whenever Homer left his studio for fishing trips in the Adirondacks and Quebec, the Bahamas and Florida, he took his watercolors along. At first he made the choice for practical reasons—the paraphernalia was easier to carry—but it proved wise on artistic grounds as well.Read more »

101 Things Every College Graduate Should Know About American History

This is not a test. It’s the real thing.

How precise is the educated American’s understanding of the history of our country? I don’t mean exact knowledge of minor dates, or small details about the terms of laws, or questions like “Who was secretary of war in 1851?” ( Answer: Charles M. Conrad.) But just how well does the average person remember the important facts—the laws, treaties, people, and events that should be familiar to everyone? Read more »

Our 2nd Annual Winter Art Show

Among the nicer aspects of working at American Heritage is that the editors are paid to look at paintings. We review exhibitions, auction catalogs, museum brochures, and art magazines in hopes of finding historical illustrations for our stories. Inevitably we come across fascinating things that we have no immediate justification for publishing. The Winter Art Show provides that justification. Last winter we ran fourteen pictures that had come to our attention during the previous year.Read more »

Master Of Sensuos Line

John White Alexander began his career as an office boy at Harper’s Weekly and rose to be a leading painter of his generation, especially of its women

In the early 1900s John White Alexander was considered one of the four preeminent American painters of his day, the peer of Whistler, Sargent, and E. A. Abbey. In 1905 he won a $175,000 commission to paint the murals at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh; in 1909 he became president of the National Academy of Design; and following his death in 1915, a commemorative exhibition of his work traveled to eleven cities. Then, for several decades, he was forgotten. Read more »